Check out Part 1 of this 2 part series on Jim Barry Wines.
Once again I am reminded how small our world can be. When I found out I was going to Clare, I also remembered that a winemaker from McLaren Vale (the one that employed me at Fox Creek Wines) was now a winemaker at Jim Barry Wines. Thus, apart from remembering there was good wine there last time I was there, there was now somebody I could contact who might show me around the winery. My thoughts were correct, Chris was more than happy to show my friends and I around the winery – even though it was Vintage time and Riesling was making it’s way into the winery. Thanks Chris.
The winery was an interesting mix of the old and new. I was particularly impressed with the small scale batching for red wines that allows the winemaker to produce small volumes of different wines and then work their magic in the blending of these small batches. I was also stuck by the differences in the character of 2 different partially fermented Riesling juices from 2 different vineyards – how different were they! The Florita Vineyard juice was so floral compared to The Lodge Hill juice.
While we were in Clare we stayed at The Clare Valley Motel. I found this a central location to spend time in the Clare Valley as well as comfortable and well priced accommodation. Check out the view from the hotel grounds.
Now the red wine reviews……
2006 The Clare Red Shiraz Cabernet ($A16)
The wine is an entry level light to mid weight red wine made from 70% Shiraz and 30% Cabernet. As an entry level wine this one really fits the brief. Spicy black fruit aromas that leads straight into the sweet fruit flavors (black plums) and hints of anise. A pleasant drink and at this price – why not.
2005 Three Little Pigs Shiraz / Malbec / Cabernet ($A19)
Another marketing play with 6 different lables made for this wine means that many of those who like the wine &/or labels will try to purchase the 6 pack containing the 6 different labels. The wine has 8% Cabernet, 29% Malbec and 63% Shiraz. Clare seems to have an affinity and history with Malbec so it is no surprise seeing it here in this blend. Interesting pepper and Cranberry aromas that has lots of red fruit plus spice (mainly fennel) flavors. The tannins are quite dusty and dry – it feels like the wine is causing the teeth to become dry. The red fruits indicate early picking and thus agai is mid weight. Highly enjoyable at the price.
2008 The Cover Drive Cabernet Sauvignon ($A19)
The Coonawarra fruit just come through here. Now we get menthol, spice and even some eucalyptus wrapped cassis and quite rounded tannins. The Coonawarra-ness is very up front and not generally what I am looking for.
2008 Lodge Hill Shiraz ($A19)
Now things are coming together. This wine is more like the Clare reds I remember. Aromas of plum, cinnamon and white pepper. The flavors are just a ball of plum, cherry, chocolate mix with some interesting floral notes (I was not expecting floral), Again, tannins that perform a mouth drying experience.
2006 The First XI Cabernet Sauvignon ($A55)
Obviously the best Coonawarra Cabernet from the cricket pitch vineyard goes into this wine. A distinct step up compared to The Cover Drive. Good french oak shows it’s influence here and shows once again how French Oak works well with this variety. Both the aromas and flavors are laced with cedar, olives, spice and menthol. The classical Cabernet with blackcurrant influences are here but play a minor role to the others – thus I believe the wine would benefit to further cellaring.
2004 The Benbournie Cabernet Sauvignon ($A90)
Back to Clare Valley fruit and you can see the difference straight away. The best one word descriptor here is dark – yes there is Blackberry here, but prunes amounst other dark fruit shows the wines concentrated face. The finish is not only long but also classy.
2006 The McRae Wood Shiraz ($A50)
A very complex Clare Shiraz. Obvious coconut and sweetness one expects from use of good American oak combines with the aromas of Satsuma Plum and menthol. There is a lot happening on the palate – different flavor layers everywhere. Sweet fruits, cashews, cinnamon, nutmeg and chocolate. The structure here lends it’s self to cellar for a while yet – but why wait.
2007 The Armagh Shiraz ($A205)
Not for tasting – I did buy a bottle and I will share my tasting notes when I drink it.